Mr Uchenna Nebuwa, National President of the Heavy Duty Drivers Association, said members of the association and other drivers no longer use the second Niger Bridge due to security concerns. On Thursday in Onitsha, Nebuwa informed the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that criminals had taken over the route, especially the Obosi-Owerri axis.
Hoodlums, armed robbers, and kidnappers, he claims, are now active along the bridge.
“Drivers are afraid because the second Niger bridge lacks adequate security; the Federal Government should provide security to protect lives and property. Another concern is the failed portions of the Obosi-Owerri road, where our trucks fall on the road daily, costing us over N20 billion in vehicles and goods.
“We are begging the Federal Government to assist us in repairing the failed sections of the Obosi-Owerri road because this will encourage drivers to use the second Niger bridge,” he said.
Mr Chukwuemeka Olekpe, Chairman of the Great Tippers Association of Nigeria, Anambra Chapter, also spoke, expressing concern over the security situation, claiming that armed robbers and kidnappers have scared them away from utilizing the bridge.
According to Paul Osakwe, a commercial bus driver who travels the Asaba-Owerri road, drivers avoid the region because the bridge has become lonely and insecure.
“The bridge is not secure, it’s too lonely, you can’t even try to use it at night, even you inside the bus will be scared, the government should at least install a light on the bridge, maybe that will help”, he remarked.
Mr Seyi Martins, the bridge’s engineer, ascribed its poor utilization to security issues in the South-East, saying that their duty was to build the bridge and open it to ease traffic.
NAN recalls that Mr Mahmuda Mamman, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, urged security agencies to beef up security on the second Niger Bridge and surrounding areas while inspecting the vandalized section of the bridge on Monday.